The original Bayonetta launched in 2010 for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 to very positive reception. It refined, and redefined the kind of hack-n-slash action game play made so famous and so well loved by the Devil May Cry series- and with good reason. Both games were created by Hideki Kamiya (formerly of Capcom/Clover Studios), and Bayonetta was his attempt to push the limits of hack-and-slash action games beyond reality. Despite positive reviews and a strong pedigree, the game didn’t sell very well- and became another cult classic, hidden gem. I can honestly say, I never thought I would see a true sequel to Bayonetta, one of my favorite games of the last console generation.
Flash forward a bit, Nintendo has unveiled their new console- the Wii U and a slew of 3rd party and 1st party games. One game became the center of controversy though, some excited and joyous, others outraged and furious, all equally shocked. Bayonetta 2 was happening- and it was going to be a Wii U exclusive title. Some were outraged that such an elusive and wanted game would be on a Nintendo console and wanted to know why they couldn’t play it on the more popular “hardcore” systems, and Platinum games stepped up to answer that question. Essentially, what it boiled down to was funding. After the first game’s poor sales, Platinum nor Sega (who published the original Bayonetta) could afford to make a sequel. Platinum tried to get funding from Sony and Microsoft, neither party accepted the offer. To everyone’s shock, Nintendo stepped up and offered funding, and development assistance in exchange for exclusivity, and the rest they say, is history.
But Bayonetta 2 now had some rather large shoes to fill, can it improve upon a near perfect game as its predecessor? Would it become a system seller to “save” Nintendo’s new system or prove it to be a capable powerhouse? I think the answer I think is a “mostly yes”. It greatly surpasses the first game in nearly every aspect, and definitely proved that the Wii U was no joke, like many had assumed rather unfairly. It hasn’t become a system seller, but is definitely one of the best exclusives on the machine, and has taken it’s place in my personal “Top 10” games of all time. With that said, let’s take a more in-depth look at this truly fantastic game.
Graphically, Bayonetta 2 is simply amazing, and demonstrates the power of the system nicely. It runs at a smooth and consistent 60fps and I noticed no slowdown during any of the numerous boss fights and horde mode style encounters. No matter who or what was on the screen, the game played silky smooth. The environments are incredibly detailed, beautiful, and varied featuring cityscapes, unique architectural towers, buildings, island areas, the underworld, and paradise itself. Some of the bosses and views within the world are truly breathtaking. The characters look great, Bayonetta (that new hairstyle is something else!) and Jeanne are as full of sex appeal as ever, Rodin as bald, and powerful, and of course, Enzio as slimy (maybe slimier?) than ever. While the original had a dull color palette lots of browns and grays, Bayonetta 2 is full of color and vibrancy, its an impressive showing by Platinum and Nintendo on all fronts here.
In the sound department the game fares just as well, the main theme “Tomorrow is Mine” is catchy dance pop at it’s finest. At first it wouldn’t seem like a fitting song for killing hundreds of angels and demons, but you quickly realize that it gets your blood flowing just as much in the middle of an intense battle. All of the voices return from the first game providing a great ensemble, however, Loki, one of the new characters doesn’t fare quite so well in the voice department. His voice is shrill and forced at best, and downright grating at worst. Thankfully, he doesn’t speak too much throughout the game, it’s a minor complaint to say the least. Bayonetta in particular, has some of the best work in the game, the actress’ delivery is spot on, and dialed in perfectly for each scene. The soundtrack is full of great tunes, they fit the game and its theme and will most likely find their way into your head, even once you stop playing the game.
Bayonetta 2 features a wide array of extra content, allowing the player to listen to tracks from the game as well as a cutscene theater, allowing any cutscene to be replayed. Concept art for characters, environments, objects, 3D models, and all of the verse cards seen in the game are available for your viewing pleasure. Just like in the original game, tons of the lore is readily available- bestiaries, both angelic, demonic, journal entries provide a more in-depth look at the world than we are shown in game. Bayonetta 2 has its own take on the trophies/achievements of the other systems, called “Bewitchments”, in total there are 30, with the majority of them being easily obtainable, or obtained with a minor mastery of the game, though a few can be quite challenging. Also included is a multiplayer mode called “Tag Climax” where players team up and take on challenges that increase in difficulty by how many halos are bet on the match, its co-operative, and competitive at the same time, encouraging both players to work together, while also competing for a high score, this mode allows players to make large amounts of in game money at a rapid pace. It’s also the only mode where you can play as Balder and Rodin.
However, none of the content mentioned so far has actually effected anything within the game, but there is plenty of that too. Purchasable in the shop are costumes for Bayonetta, typically sexy or comical in nature, Platinum and Nintendo gave us a little extra by including Nintendo themed costumes that can slightly change the way Bayonetta fights, or in a special case, changes an entire section of the game. The included costumes are: Peach (summons Bowser as a wicked weave), Daisy (summons Bowser as a wicked weave, and I believe it’s different than Peach’s version), Samus (gives Bayonetta the arm canon, and changes “The Beast Within” ability to Samus’ morph ball), Link (using certain weapons allows you to control the Master Sword), and Fox which replaces all of Bayonetta’s guns with miniature Arwings, each one featuring a member of Team Star Fox as a charm dangling from the end). The Fox costume is the one that majorly changes an entire chapter of the game, but I won’t spoil which one, in case you haven’t experienced it yourself it. Also included are Nintendo costumes in which Bayonetta has her hairstyle from the first game.
That brings us to the last, and most obvious extra content of Bayonetta 2. Included with the retail edition of the game, is an enhanced Wii U port of the original Bayonetta. Without a doubt it is the definitive version of the game, and it also features all of the previously mentioned Nintendo costumes within it as well. I’ll save reviewing the first game for another time, but this was a very generous offer, and something Platinum nor Nintendo had to do and it’s a huge plus to be able to play both games on the same system!
Finally, we can talk about the story, controls, and gameplay of Bayonetta 2. We’ll start of with the story, it’s a little convoluted featuring some time paradoxes, time travel, and altering of the future / past. It’s a bit hard to wrap your head around, and almost makes me feel like the story of the series has just created an infinite time loop or something. Thankfully, this isn’t a very story driven game, this game is driven by kicking a lot of ass, and Bayonetta does just that. After completing the main story you unlock both Jeanne and Rosa for use in the story chapters, each have their differences from Bayonetta, though they play mostly the same. The controls in this game are simply flawless. At first, I was unsure about the behemoth Wii U Gamepad for a such a precise and fast paced action game, but my fears were alleviated. I never found the Wii U Gamepad to hamper the experience, and after playing for hours on end and killing the battery, I would switch to the Wii U Pro Controller, and though it still performed well, I often found myself missing the girth of the Gamepad. I never found myself to be at odds with it, and found to be far more comfortable for extended periods of play compared to the Pro Controller. I don’t own a Wii Classic Controller to comment on how well it performs, nor did I use the touch screen of the Gamepad, except to get the Bewitchment for touching Bayonetta during cutscenes.
The controls are all incredibly responsive and I never felt the game was difficult due to poor controls. Bayonetta always did exactly what I wanted to, when I wanted her to do it. The controls are essentially identical to the first game and honestly didn’t need much adjustment. Gameplay is where Bayonetta 2 really shines. This game from start to finish (and even after) is flat out, plain and simply- FUN. You’re given a nice variety of enemies to fight, both angelic, and demonic all the way up to “God” himself and the self-titled “Queen of Hell”. Most of the weapons are new and varied with only a couple returning from the first game- and each one has their own strengths and weaknesses, they are nicely balanced. None feel useless, and similarly, none feel terribly overpowered. Basic elements like Witch Time and Crafting have returned, though Witch Time has been altered slightly, and isn’t as overpowered as it was previously. One new combat feature, featured only in a few stages, is the Umbran Armor mech, which as it sounds, is a giant mech-like creature powered by magic, and with the right items equipped they can seriously break the game with even basic combos. Through purchasing an item in the shop, you gain the ability to summon one during any chapter of the game. The combos are fun, and it’s interesting to see all of the different ways you can combine powers, moves, weapons, and items to rack up insane damage and SSStylish!!! combos.
Bayonetta 2 is largely a fair game in terms of difficulty- overall it’s easier than the first even on the highest difficulty settings, and using items mid-chapter no longer penalizes you making it easier to achieve better ranks. I had no problems playing each new difficulty mode, and they felt like a fair challenge upgrade, though I must say, the jump from 3rd Climax to Infinite Climax is a much larger gap than from 2nd Climax to 3rd. After running through 3rd Climax fairly simply, I regularly got my ass handed to me on Infinite Climax, but it never felt cheap, it actually encouraged me to get better, and learn more intricate combos and develop new tactics to take out new foes and play the game in a different way than I had before. Finishing the story unlocks 5 “Lost Chapters” which are survival challenges, 1 – 3 being relatively easy and 4 & 5 being near impossible without serious dedication and practice.
All in all, there isn’t too much more I can say about Bayonetta 2. It’s a genuinely fun and addicting game. It’s well made, fair and challenging. I’ve spent nearly 40 hours playing the game, and I still have things left to do. I’m still missing a few Bewitchments, and I’ve never unlocked all the Tarot cards. I know I’ll go back and try to wrap it all up eventually. It’s just that good, and that fun. Not only would I easily place this game in my top 10 of all time, I will preemptively go on record and declare it the best game of the 8th console generation, I honestly don’t see how a video game could surpass it. That might seem insanely hyperbolic, being that we are barely into the new generation, but I feel this game is just that good- and if I play a game better, I will admit to it. So, let’s just leave with the words of the HappyConsoleGamer- BAYONETTA 2 ROCKS!
Final Score – 5 out of 5.